One of the most basic questions we can ask ourselves is, “Who Am I?”
Whether we are grappling with personal matters, reconciling our values at work or in business, or aligning with others in a relationship, knowing who we are is vital. If we do not know who we are, we can easily mirror the definition and demands of others.
Let us spend some time challenging our thinking about this question, “Who Am I?” People often interpret the response as static. However, who we are is more expansive than can be encapsulated in a moment, for we are a product of our experiences, past and present. And even more profound is the impact of our potential on our ‘whoness’. You are so much more than you think! Aristotle put it well, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
So, why does this matter?
Psychology defines our personality as our relatively stable traits, the consistent attributes about us regardless of changing situations. Just as carbon atoms crystalize under intense heat and pressure to form diamonds, our experiences and potential are processing our transformations too. Indeed, we a not just who we are but also whom we are becoming. In assessing ourselves or even evaluating our performance and impact, we must be mindful of engaging the details of the present, as well as the power of our potential. Herein lies the delicate balance between mindfulness and vision; we must seize the moment and opportunity.
In 2007, Fred Luthans and his colleagues introduced the concept of positive psychological capital (PsyCap), an apt model for framing our strategy. They define PsyCap as “an individual’s positive psychological state of development”. They further characterize this state by high levels of Hope, (Self-)Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism or HERO for short. As we reflect on who we are, it is important to recognize that any conclusion about ourselves should not be limited to a snapshot of our developmental journey across our lifespan but must factor in the big picture of ourselves.
Working capital powers day-to-day trading operations in a business. Similarly, PsyCap enables our developmental operations, optimizing for positive outcomes. Building PsyCap resources can help us calibrate our best selves while managing the necessary personal transformations to become even better. Just as working capital enables value creation and profitability, PsyCap enables the expansion of ourselves.
Using PsyCap, here are some strategies to help you seize the moment and opportunity:
- Foster hope! Hope motivates us with the willpower and way power to move from one point to another. So, while we are grounded at the moment, hope helps us to be determined, have a vision and a plan to move forward.
- Build self-efficacy, which is our belief about our capabilities to make an impact. Efficacy requires us to have a high degree of self-awareness about our past experiences and present circumstances, how they affect us and others and the implications for the future outcomes we expect (positive or negative). Leaning into your victories and learning from your failures help to increase your confidence in your capabilities to be successful and leverage your experiences when you don’t quite hit the mark.
- Develop resilience; your ability to bounce back from adversity. Distractions, obstacles and downright failures are inevitable. In my practice, I encounter many clients who seem stuck in a loop of an assumption that they are destined to fail because they have not developed resilience or what I like to call ‘bounce ability’. Our self-assessments can diminish and become limited, compromising our resilience when we do not foster hope and build self-efficacy. Therein lies a critical personal practice that you can adopt; preparing for adversities not just with risk management but with hope and self-belief.
- Practice optimism! Having a positive outlook may seem basic, but it can make a tremendous difference in our physiological and psychosocial states. The world and our experiences are charged with enough negatives and low expectations. We must therefore challenge ourselves to imagine great possibilities, validate our assumptions and manage the risks. Optimism shines a light on the darkest parts of ourselves, our mindsets, attitudes, and behaviours. While mindfulness is integral to wellbeing and charting a path to flourishing, optimism is the magnet that pulls you into better experiences.
My initial question was, “Who Am I?
Here’s a quick fill-in-the-blanks exercise you can use to get started reflecting on your whoness:
I was _____. But now, I am _____. And I am becoming _____.
Start by filling ‘I was ‘. Reflect on where you are coming from so your self-characterization can demonstrate the changes or transformations you have already experienced between the past and the present. These may be good, bad or indifferent, but knowing will help your self-awareness.
Continue by filling, ‘But now, I am, which is where most of our conscious self-characterization lives. Finally, finish by filling, ‘And I am becoming’, which is where you will now have to tap into your PsyCap. Wrap up by making a compelling statement to answer the question, “Who Am I?” It does not have to be perfect; the goal is to articulate who you are, reflect on your experiences and engage your potential.
I know there may be tension doing this exercise but lean into it. Any frustration you experience assessing yourself is a positive indicator of the greatness you expect and can engage more meaningfully.
So, Who Am I? Here’s my example:
I was a scared little boy who never believed he had a purpose and could find a place in the world. But now, I am a visionary, an ambitious, bold, and courageous man, a capable influencer who positively impacts the spaces he occupies. And that’s not all! I am becoming a global entrepreneur, thought leader, and coach—a mentor for little boys who struggle like I did to discover their purpose and place in the world.
I AM A CHANGEMAKER! leveraging my past, learning from my present and leaning into my potential to make a difference in the world.
So, who are you?
Let me know how this works for you! Feel free to reach out, connect or drop me a line.
Until next time, cheers!